The 10 Things You MUST Do If You're Having a Tent Wedding

Updated 05/26/16

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

There are plenty of reasons brides, grooms, and planners alike love tented weddings — the ambience, the cozy intimate air, and the whole party (and all the wedding décor) is safe from the elements! But erecting a wedding structure isn't like putting together the tent you and your fiancé use when you go camping. It takes a lot of work, and requires just as much preparation and planning. For example: Love the look of a clear top tent? While a see-through structure (like the one above, decorated by famous planner Mindy Weiss) is great at bringing the outdoors in at your event, it also acts as a greenhouse, trapping warm air and posing a threat to those wilt-able flowers.

Or perhaps you're worried that your tent might be too big for your party size? Add warm lighting to make a massive tent appear cozy and intimate. To get started on planning your own canopied big day, take note of these 10 other need-to-know things about tented weddings.

1. Plan for a hefty bill.

Renting a tent is expensive (starting at $1,500 for 100 guests), and you're on the hook for all the décor, rentals, and equipment it takes to turn raw space into an inviting room.

2. Pick a model.

Pole tents have peaks, created by center poles, and are vinyl or sailcloth. Structure and frame tents have an open steel shell that can support heavy equipment like big speakers. Clear tops are sleek and modern.

3. Find the right spot.

Focus on the view and the scale of the tent in relation to the surroundings. (It shouldn't swallow the entire plot of land!) And don't forget to find a flat surface at least 10 feet from any building (for stakes).

4. Ask about your venue's rules before you book.

Can you stake directly into the ground? Are there noise restrictions? When can you start setting up? This one's crucial because erecting a tent can take one to four days.

5. Reserve it early.

Rental companies have a limited supply of styles and sizes, so book one as soon as you finalize your date and have a good idea of the guest count — no later than six months before the wedding.

Photo by Le Fete Weddings

6. Get the proper size.

A tent that's too big or too small can mess up the flow and vibe of your party. As a general rule, figure 18 square feet of tent per person for a seated dinner and dancing.

7. Have a rain plan — and don't forget the walls!

In perfect weather, you can leave the tent open. But if you need to keep the outdoors out, have wall paneling ready and a plan that can be put into action quickly.

8. Consider flooring.

Grass is your cheapest option, but if you don't want the ladies to ruin their heels, cover the ground with wood flooring, sisal carpet, or Astroturf (an affordable option) in a neutral hue.

9. Think hard about the temperature.

Trust us: Nothing is worse than being trapped inside a tent with no AC in August. Depending on your date, you may need air conditioners or heaters to keep everyone comfortable.

10. Do a sound check.

Music will be nice and loud on the dance floor, but what about during dinner? Have your DJ or band do a test run to ensure that guests way over there can hear too.

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